Ryan Garcia’s praise inducing breakout win over Luke Campbell on Saturday night changes nothing in Stevie McKenna’s eyes.
McKenna [7(7)-0] is still confident he would defeat boxing’s next big thing, indeed the relative novice has doubled down on claims he’d stop Golden Boy’s new golden boy.
Over the summer the Monaghan fighter opened up about his sparring sessions with Insta star, who is fast turning boxing sensation. ‘The Hitman’ claimed Canelo’s stablemate quit when they sparred and expressed confidence he would stop the American if given the chance.
Over the weekend Garcia [21(18)-0] proved he is a name to be reckoned with in a brilliant lightweight division to be reckoned with, as he stopped two time world title challenger Luke Campbell amidst big coming out party.
The victory, which came via stoppage after the fighter of Mexican heritage showed real heart to get up off the canvas, hasn’t changed the Smithborough natives feelings with regard to Garcia or any potential match up.
“I don’t think Luke realised how hurt he really was,” said McKenna when speaking to Sky Sports. “There was over a minute left on the clock.
“If he had been an aggressive-style fighter, another fighter would have got him out of there, like Gervonta Davis or Teofimo Lopez. Luke is more of a stand-off fighter, it’s not in his nature to be aggressive and come forward.
“Garcia was badly hurt. If I had been in there, I would have got Garcia out of there, if I had him hurt like that.”
McKenna, who has recently signed to Mick Hennessy and is planning on becoming a Channel 5 bill topper over the next 18 months, did admit Garcia looked stronger than when they met in the training ring.
“At that time, I didn’t think he had any power. During our spar he was a lot of tap, tap, and he was moving a lot. He was going from corner to corner.
“He looks like he was punching hard now at the minute, so he has worked on his power and his strength. He looks like he has a good punch, and he fought a good fight.”
It’s rare praise from the older of two boxing brothers – Stevie’s younger brother Aaron is a Golden Boy stable mate of Garcia – but McKenna also notes he has had more scope to improve and learn.
“When I first sparred with Ryan, I was still an amateur. He’d had 18 fights.
“Over this past year now, I’m hitting harder and harder. I’m getting stronger every day in the gym. I’m working savagely hard and I’ll be ready for Ryan Garcia whenever the time comes. I’d fight him tomorrow, if I had the chance.”